China, Japan high on R&D spending, US slides

New York, Jan 2: China and Japan, for the first time, are spending big on biomedical research and development, while the spending by the US has come down.

Triggered almost entirely by reduced investment from industry, the R&D spending in the US dropped from $131 billion to $119 billion when adjusted for inflation from 2007-12, while China increased spending by $6.4 billion and Japan by $9 billion, says a new study.

It means that while the US’ overall global share of biomedical research spending remains way higher than China and Japan in terms of volume, it fell in percentage points from 51 percent in 2007 to 45 percent in 2012.

Overall, Asia’s share of spending grew from 18 percent to 24 percent. Europe held steady at 29 percent, said a new study published in New England Journal of Medicine.

“The United States has long been a world leader in driving research and development in the biomedical science. It’s important to maintain that leadership role because biomedical research has a number of long term downstream economic benefits, especially around job creation,” said study author Reshma Jagsi, associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan Health System.

Despite reductions in funding from the National Institutes of Health, including a 20 percent drop in purchasing power since 2003, the researchers discovered that the US’ decline was driven by reduced investment from industry, not the public sector. This includes support for clinical trials testing potential new therapies.

Historically, about half of drugs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had some federal government funding during the course of the research and development, the study concluded.

IANS